Encouraging the Team Swarm Pattern for Effective Development

June 25, 2006 — Posted by Jim Trott

One of the most powerful phenomena that we have observed on effective Agile Development teams is something we have come to call "TeamSwarm".

In my upcoming blog posts, I will be describing what TeamSwarm is, how you can see it, some simple rules that guide its operation. I will discuss how the TeamSwarm can be coaxed into existence by building upon these simple rules. In Lean, we call putting simple rules into practice, building blocks. I will define and discuss the rules as building block practices and how they synergize to form emergent behavior that shows a team is swarming. Briefly, these building blocks are:

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  • Focus on are one story at a time (small chunks of prioritized work)
  • Put the team into close communication
  • Adapt your process
  • Make work visible

While the development community has talked extensively about “close communication” or “osmotic communication”, about pairing, and about stories as chunks of work, they have said very little about how these combine naturally into pattern that is desirable and can be observed. TeamSwarm is how these go together.

The TeamSwarm distinction is useful because it is both an indicator of success and healthy team behavior.

Have you observed this pattern in your work? I'd love to know what you think.

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About the author | Jim Trott

Jim Trott is a senior consultant for Net Objectives. He has used object-oriented and pattern-based analysis techniques throughout his 20 year career in knowledge management and knowledge engineering. He is the co-author of Design Patterns Explained: A New Perspective on Object-Oriented Design, Lean-Agile Software Development: Achieving Enterprise Agility, and the Lean-Agile Pocket Guide for Scrum Teams.



        

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